Easy language, Easy Read: what do adapted written English formats achieve for people with intellectual disabilities?

Dr Deborah Chinn

King’s College London

In this presentation I will review policy, practice and research in accessible information for people with intellectual disabilities, with a focus on Easy Read written texts in the UK context and my own research in this area, which draws on sociological understandings of technologies and of literacy. Using Rose’s (2016) framework of the three sites for examining texts – the site of production, the site of the text itself and the site of reception – I will explore how Easy Read texts are designed, distributed and made use of by people with intellectual disabilities and others. I will address the central dilemma in the Easy Read project; namely that creating a distinct language variety for people with intellectual disabilities offers opportunities for access, whilst also highlighting aspects of difference and implied incompetence in potentially exclusionary ways. I suggest that more research needs to be done on how Easy Read texts are used in everyday situations and how they integrate (or not) with other ways of facilitating self-determination and engagement in decision making for people with intellectual disabilities.


Deborah worked for many years as a clinical psychologist in publicly funded specialist health services for people with intellectual disabilities before taking up an academic role at King’s College London. Deborah continues to draw on the insights she has gained in practice about both the systemic and the everyday exclusions experienced by people with intellectual disabilities and also their creativity and resilience. Deborah has an ongoing interest in using Conversation Analysis to examine how people with intellectual disabilities experience health and social care interactions. She is also involved in a three year project exploring the quality of staffed group homes for people with intellectual disabilities using participatory photography with residents.